This rustic Smoked Mozzarella Bread Pudding is made with tangy sourdough and chock full of stretchy smoked mozzarella cheese. Hearty enough for a vegetarian main dish, or serve it as a side dish at your next holiday dinner.
Bread pudding recipes are so easy to make and satisfying to eat. I have quite a few sweet ones in my repertoire, but this savory one is really special. It’s quite good on its own for a quick lunch with a side salad, but it really shines as a dinner party side dish. Thanksgiving is next week, and if you find the idea of making scratch-made dressing daunting, then I suggest this dish – not as a replacement – but as a worthy alternative.
Leeks are the unsung hero of this dish. The comically large oniony stalks break down easily and impart mild onion flavor. But you’ll need to clean them thoroughly! Their sheaths can hold some of the sandy soil they are grown in. Split one down the center with a large knife and clean each layer individually. Then give them the ol’ chop-chop.
Smoked Mozzarella can be found at nearly any cheese counter at well-stocked grocery stores. Go for the block variety, and not the pre-shredded stuff in the bags. Because those shreds have stabilizers in them to prevent them melting during shipping. You’ll need 8 oz. of smoked mozzarella, grate half of it. Pull apart the remaining cheese with your fingers to create 1/2-inch pieces. Set the grated portion aside – it goes on top right before baking.
Cut a loaf of sourdough to 1-inch cubes and toss in a large bowl. Mix up the custard with the smoked mozzarella bits and lots of eggs. (Better add an extra dozen to the grocery list!) The custard has a lovely buttermilk tang to match and enhance the sourdough flavor.
You could make this in a single 10-inch cast iron skillet, or even a 13×9 inch casserole dish. But I decided to use these little individual 14 oz. cast iron skillets. (You could also use 14 oz. ramekins.) I had purchased them when my husband wanted individual skillet cookies for his birthday party a few years ago. They were perfect for this savory bread pudding, and the serving size is generous.
Spoon the bread mixture into the mini skillets, and place them on a large baking sheet so they’re easy to transfer to the oven. They don’t take very long to bake in individual portions. Only 20-ish minutes. If you’re cooking this as one big dish, you’re looking at about 40-45 minutes bake time.
Each little skillet holds layers of sourdough, pockets of smoked mozzarella, and mild sautéed leek. The buttermilk custard adds richness and another layer of tangy flavor. I can’t wait for you to try it!
If you’re looking for something sweeter with holiday flair, check out my Panettone Baked French Toast. Which is the most Christmassy bread pudding ever!
Smoked Mozzarella Bread Puddings
- 14 oz. mini cast iron skillets (6)
- 2 cups chopped leek about 1/2 of a large leek
- 2 tablespoons salted butter
- 16 oz. loaf sourdough bread fluffy style, not dense/crusty
- 8 oz. block smoked mozzarella cheese
- 2 1/2 cups buttermilk
- 5 egg yolks
- 2 whole eggs
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- Olive oil for greasing cast iron skillets
- Chopped parsley for garnish optional
- Sauté sliced leek in butter in a skillet over medium heat until tender and slightly translucent. Set aside to cool, 10 minutes.
- Cube the sourdough loaf and place it in an extra-large mixing bowl. Set aside.
- Grate half of the mozzarella cheese; cover and set aside.
- Pull the remaining cheese apart with your fingers to 1/2-inch pieces (or cube the cheese with a sharp knife).
- In a separate large mixing bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg yolks, whole eggs, and heavy cream. Stir in the cooled leeks, 1/2 inch cheese pieces, salt, and pepper. Pour the mixture over the cubed bread and stir well until all the bread cubes are coated. Mix well and press the bread down into the liquid so everything gets saturated. If the mixture seems dry, add an extra splash of buttermilk. Cover and let stand 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Brush mini cast iron skillets with olive oil. Spoon the bread pudding evenly into each skillet. Sprinkle each skillet with the reserved grated mozzarella cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted near the centers of the puddings comes out clean, or with a little stretchy cheese attached.
- Broil 2-3 minutes to brown the tops. Let cool slightly before serving. Garnish with chopped parsley, if using.